A Study in Symbiosis: Fungus Garden by Alice Könitz at Lazy Eye Gallery

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CalArts alum Alice Könitz (Art MFA 99) recently showcased her innovative art project, Fungus Garden, at the Lazy Eye Gallery in Yucca Valley, California. This exhibition, held during February and March, emerged from Könitz’s fascination with air quality and weather patterns, a topic that gained her attention following the devastating wildfires in Southern California in 2020. Delving into the intricacies of environmental airflow, Könitz found inspiration in the natural world’s wisdom, specifically in the symbiotic relationship between termites and fungi.

Könitz’s journey into Fungus Garden began with an investigation into the functions of high- and low-pressure zones and their impact on air quality. This inquiry led her to the architectural marvel of termite mounds, which maintain a regulated temperature environment crucial for the cultivation of a specific fungus. These structures, known as fungus combs, intrigued Könitz, guiding her to explore the potential of sculptural forms to modulate airflow.

The culmination of her exploration is a translucent, geometric sculpture serving as a nurturing ground for mycelium growth. Könitz meticulously arranged spores within trapezoidal glass panes, ensuring a controlled, moisture-rich environment conducive to mycelium growth, thereby avoiding mold. Fungus Garden was commissioned by Prospect Art, an artist-run nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, through its One Work Grant program.

The Lazy Eye Gallery is part of the broader Yucca Valley Material Lab campus, spearheaded by artist Heidi Schwegler since 2019. The campus has evolved into a creative ecosystem, featuring a variety of collaborative and artistic endeavors, from a sleeping library composed of books to a fully-equipped metals foundry.

Könitz, originally from Essen, Germany, is a Los Angeles-based artist whose sculptures, films, and collages employ a stylistic language shaped by modern architectural elements and the influences of early Modernism. Her work has been included in several exhibitions, such as the Whitney Biennial and the Made in LA Biennial.

CalArts Wild Beast | Image by California Institute of the Arts
PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth McRae

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